So there is this nasty little 24 hour bug going around that has people throwing up. Gross I know, but so many I know have had it. We’ve had 3 kids at church get sick (at church). I’ve been sick. My oldest daughter, Blue, has been sick. It’s not fun. Mommas don’t like it when their kids are sick. Daddy’s don’t like it when the mommas get sick!
Sometimes, we can feel the sickness coming on. Sometimes we don’t. Then the sickness is here. We throw-up; maybe it’s only once, maybe it’s a lot of times. Sometimes the damage is minimal. Last night, the kid at church made it to the bathroom and the clean up was manageable. Sometimes we make a huge mess. Then, eventually, the sickness is gone and all that is left is the memory of never wanting to do that again. Sometimes there are reminders of the sickness, like when others tease you about your children always getting sick in church – “can’t you keep your puking kids at home?” But eventually it all fades away until the next time we get sick.
Verbal vomit is sort of the same. And yes, we’ve all done it. We’ve all spewed words out of our mouth that have been ugly, nasty and hurtful. Sometimes, we feel the gross words coming and yet we just can’t stop them. Someone tries to share a new/better idea with us or an improved way of doing something and many times that “Oh yeah, well if you….” starts to well inside of us. We then feel threatened and in our heads start to lash back. Maybe we didn’t get much sleep and then the kids were loud and noisy and then supper got burnt and the poor soul who mentioned it gets 30 lashes with a sharp tongue!
Sometimes, the words just come out with no warning. We hit our thumb with the hammer and @$*#( comes bursting out. Someone talks smack about our kids and the momma bear comes out teeth bared. Someone touches just the wrong chord within us and we snap.
Sometimes the damage is visible to all. We put it out there, our lips lashed out and people are hurt. The clean-up is difficult. We first must recognize the mess we’ve made and then make an effort to sincerely apologize. But sometimes the smell will remain. Afterall, we can’t put toothpaste back in a tube after it’s been squeezed out; the words have been said and we can’t take them back.
Sometimes, however, the damage is minimal and not seen. It doesn’t mean the damage isn’t there, just that it’s been contained. Maybe we sought out a safe and trusted friend to listen to our “verbal vomit.” Maybe we journaled. Maybe we talked to God and gave it all to Him. The damage was just contained to ourselves as we already thought the thought.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22
So how do we stop the spread of the “verbal vomit” disease? Just like we can stop the spread of other sickness.
#1 – Wash our hands after being sick. We can’t expect to stop gossip, slander, or hurtful talk if we don’t clean up ourselves first. Go to God for forgiveness – every time we get dirty.
#2 – Wash our hands before we prepare food and eat. Before we teach others or learn, have difficult discussions with others or listen when others need to “talk to us”, go to God in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and blessing on the conversation.
#3 – Clean up the places we’ve made a mess. Yep, that means going to the places we’ve “verbally vomited” and cleaning up. We need to apologize and ask how we can rectify the damage we’ve done. Embarrasement may remain, along with the stink of what we have said, but eventually it will fade.
#4 – Stay away from people who are sick. If we hang out a lot with people who are sick, we’re bound to get sick. If there are people who continually gossip, slander or speak hurtfully of others, we will probably end up doing the same. We can love people, but not be so close that they become contagious.
#5 – Eat right and exercise. Isn’t that the answer to many health problems. As Christians, if we consume reading material, video and music that is “healthy” and good for our souls, our spiritual lives and attitudes will show that. If we “exercise” our faith muscle and serve Jesus and others in love, we will find that the condition of our heart is much healthier.
So there you have it – my not so great analysis of “verbal vomit” to the really gross stuff so many parents have cleaned up lately. And know that I too am guilty. I don’t pretend to stand on a pedestal, clean from all the “sickness” below. I’m down there too – making a mess and trying to clean it up.